We heard this sentence in the movie Northmen.

These weapons are all that are left of men, whom, like you, confronted me.

Which is correct?

I think it should be who and not whom because in the affirmative the sentence becomes

These men confronted me

which should be replaced by who.
My friend says the replacing pronoun should be whom because it refers to people.

  • Okay, so an important thing to note before we get into what is "correct": outside of the current most formal styles, "whom" is dead in modern English. It doesn't matter whether it would have been correct a hundred years ago, you couldn't get the majority of modern English speakers to remember or confirm which is a correct or incorrect usage. "Who" is used indiscriminately for what would have been either "who" or "whom" before. Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 22:23
  • I just realized there's a chance this is only true in American English, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't the case in all major English speaking communities. Could others please confirm? Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 22:24
  • How modern? I learned it proper in school and I am nowhere near 100 years old. And do you mean just casual usage, or even in university now they don't care? (AmE)
    – user3169
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 22:28
  • I said a hundred as that's about the time period I expect the majority of literate English speakers would be able to acknowledge when to use one or the other. It was an estimate, of course. I know it's been taught to at least some over the intervening time, but it most definitely seems to me that it's as often forgotten as remembered, and that incorrect ideas like "whom refers to a person" are as widely held as the correct usage, and there is, outside of dead references, not much consensus among speakers. Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 22:36
  • I combine that with the fact that very few would confront someone using "who" instead of "whom", or indeed even notice anything was wrong, and that it is no longer taught in elementary schools because the teachers there can't remember the actual rule themselves (I asked them at the time), and I think "dead" is a pretty fair assessment. At least as dead as not splitting infinitives. Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 22:38

2 Answers 2


"Who" is used for subjects, "whom" is used for objects. Examples:

the men who confronted me.
(They (subject) confronted me.)

the men whom I confronted.
(I confronted them(object).)

So "who" is correct here.

  • 1
    This is indeed the rule. But it should also be noted that using "who" for everything is at that cusp in the evolution of a language where many people consider it correct. Most people hardly notice the incorrect use of "who", but an incorrect use of "whom" sounds ludicrously pretentious. Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 2:40
  • 1
    You apparently missed my rant about that in the question's comments. :) Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 7:35
  • Your observations are correct, but you forgot to say that who is also used for Objects. Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 11:18
  • Well, it's not supposed to be used for objects, but see above two rants about militant prescriptivism. I'd just as soon not acknowledge that this rule exists at all. Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 16:10

If who(m) is after a preposition you need to use whom. If the word who(m) occurs directly before a verb you must use who. In other circumstances it doesn't matter what you use, but my opinion is that it's better to use who. That's just my opinion; native-speakers use both. If you stick to the two important rules, you'll sound like a native-speaker.

  • ...this is even more confusing than the "whom refers to a person" rule. Your second rule is a convoluted way of saying that "who refers to the subject of a phrase", but I don't think your first rule is right. Two major examples: "He Who Shall Not Be Named" from Harry Potter, and "He who is without sin cast the first stone" which is a popular misquotation from the Bible. (Or at least, I can't find the translation which uses that phrasing. Many of them say "that" instead of "who".) Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 7:47
  • Aaaaarrrgh! Thanks @modulusshift. That should be "preposition" not pronoun!!!!!! Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 9:11

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